Business opportunities in the metaverse

kimveillaux - 10/11/2022

The metaverse

The term metaverse represents a fictional and persistent 3D virtual world in which we can find social interactions. Indeed, its popularity increased tenfold at the very moment when Facebook dropped the name Facebook and became Meta (Metaverse). However, metaverses have existed for a long time. Serving different purposes, the metaverse raises important questions about the business opportunities it brings. In particular, in a previous article, the key figures of virtual reality in retail, we had noted the major trends of change in retail that is now turning to the metaverse:

  • 70% of consumers who visited a store in the metaverse consumed.
  • 60% of Gen Zers think that brands should sell their products on metaverse platforms

The changes brought about by the cryptocurrency

Crypto-currencies were previously known to a minority of people, speculators, digital natives or insiders. Without making any noise, the financial mass of cryptomoney has become such that some states and other central banks have adopted it. We have gone from a niche to an almost generalized means of payment. 

The arrival of web 3 and the metaverse has only amplified this crypto revolution. Indeed, these technologies also complement the creation, ownership and exchange of digital assets and tokenized versions of real-world assets to strengthen cryptocurrencies and NFTs. A cryptocurrency is based on a digital payment system that does not require banks to verify transactions. It is a peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing system. It allows anyone to send and receive payments anywhere. Using blockchain technology, all transactions are updated and held by the holders of a currency. There are thousands of cryptocurrencies among which Bitcoin or Ethereum are the most popular. Its price is very fluctuating and unstable. 

On the other hand, an NFT or non-fungible tokenrepresents any object that is attached to a digital identity. Like cryptocurrencies, they are based on the blockchain to be stored and identified. 

A virtual currency in a metaverse but what for?

Direct to avatar: business opportunities in the metaverse

A not so new practice

Consumers, especially digital natives, are increasingly focusing on digital property. Indeed, they are ready to customize their digital identity, to acquire goods and properties in the virtual world. 

The Fabricant, a digital-only fashion house, was born. The principle, a garment does not necessarily need to be physical to exist. In February 2021, NFT fashion pioneer RTFKT Inc (pronounced "artifact") sold 600 pairs of digital sneakers. Designed in partnership with artist Fewocious, these NFTs sold out in just 7 minutes, generating $3.1 million. 

The term direct-to-avatar (D2A) refers to the business model of selling products directly to buyers' avatars. This concept has been around for many years in video games. It is possible to buy cosmetics or skins to personalize your character. This practice is a very good business model for video game publishers and it is quite natural that metaverses have reproduced this "direct to avatar" model. 

There are a multitude of metaverses, with very different purposes and uses, here are some of them.

Metaverses related to the world of work

The Covid pandemic has anchored the telecommuting into our habits. It is quite natural that the metaverse has become a collaborative tool. Indeed, it allows us to find a work atmosphere similar to the one we knew in the office.

Finally, it offers managers a virtual environment where they can meet their employees, communicate with them and maintain a semblance of physical interaction. In 2021, Meta launched Horizon Workrooms on Oculus Quest 2, a solution that addresses the new challenges of telecommuting.

Metaverses related to the medical sector

The metaverse is also a valuable tool for healthcare professionals. It is now possible to visit a patient anywhere, regardless of geographical or health constraints.

Telemedicine, the provision of medical services at a distance, has also developed strongly during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The world of video games

The origin of metaversesis the video game. This is what makes games more immersive and exciting. Like in Fortnite, players, through their avatars, are led to live very varied and unique experiences. It is quite natural that game publishers have offered their players to participate in concerts, social happenings. It also allows them to create their own virtual spaces, collaborate and play with their friends. 

Skins sales are estimated to exceed $230 million in the year according to the microtransaction economy site.

What about retail?

We've already told you about the rapid development of virtual stores, but the recent arrival of public metaverses is totally disrupting the retail world. The recent Mckinsey study shows that American consumers, from different generations, intend to spend nearly 4 hours a day in the metaverse on average. It also shows that, contrary to popular belief, consumers' future interest in the metaverse is primarily in shopping (48%). It's a revolution that's taking hold.

We also think that there is a distinction between private metaverses (which are representative of an entity, company, institute...) and public metaverses, (which will gather people from all origins and which are not specifically attached to a company).

Public metaverses: commercial opportunities

These metaverses generally propose to their community to create an avatar, to buy land, to participate in collective experiences (concerts or others). But also, to create game experiences, to monetize them on a marketplace and if necessary to buy NFT. 

Let's be chauvinistic, a little focus on 2 French metaverses : 

The outsider : Metaverse GT. Newcomer, it offers a service that allows companies to sell their products and services in an immersive and interactive 3D environment. The goal is to offer the easiest access possible, and a simplified payment with the "classic" credit card or via cryptocurrencies.

The undeniable star, The Sandbox:

The Sandbox is a decentralized metaverse virtual game world built on the Ethereum blockchain. Creators can create a game experience and monetize it via non-fungible NFT tokens using The Sandbox's cryptocurrency called SAND.

Large French and international companies are investing in these metaverses.

The example: Carrefour

At the beginning of the year, the group announced that it had acquired a plot of land on Sandbox for an estimated budget of €300,000. The announced objective: "Our strategy is to be at the heart of emerging trends to understand them and not have to react to them later"

In the wake of this, Carrefour has started to "drop" NFTs at 15 euros to raise awareness among its customers about saving bees. The retailer will choose to put its first NFTs on sale on The Sandbox, it plans to offer an educational and fun game experience around bees.

The world of luxury

According to the Journal du Luxethe high fashion houses want to improve customer engagement thanks to these different technologies (NFT, metaverse, 3D imaging) while developing a form of eco-responsible activity.

PradaPrada, the Italian fashion house, is reinventing its "Time Capsule" concept by adding NFTs to it. This new project inaugurates at the same time the arrival of Prada on the Discord platform. The clothes offered on Web3 also give access to new digital experiences. Prada understands that NFTs are symbols of digital power for a brand and that this attracts multiple consumers who are fans of these new technologies.

The house of Christian LacroixChristian Lacroix, had the original idea to create a 3D party in the virtual world of Decentraland. The brand has partnered with the company Exclusive to launch a collection of NFT. These NFTs allow to obtain new digital collectibles. A total of 700 non-fungible tokens are offered for sale at a price of 0.4 ETH, which is about 680 euros.

In the world of luxury, there are many examples but it does not have a monopoly. In fact, even fast food chains like Pizza Hut are starting to market NFTs and are turning to metaverses.

In order to experiment with sales models, to stay close to digital natives or to penetrate this new virtual economy. Other brands are choosing private metaverses.

Private metaverses: their business opportunities

Le Printemps recently launched its very first virtual store where you can find a selection of very targeted products. In a dreamlike universe, based on the modeling of this emblematic building. Le Printemps offers a game where you can try to win NFTs if you buy a product. The objective, beyond generating sales, is also to boost their brand image, demonstrating that the brand innovates and adapts to new technologies. 

Example : La Nouvelle Cave

La Nouvelle CaveLa Nouvelle Cave, a Casino Group company, is democratizing the virtual world through an immersive virtual boutique available on its website. Based on the model of one of the brand's stores, there is a digital wine merchant for advice. Also, we find product sheets in which 3D models have been integrated that allow to handle the bottles "as if we were in the physical store". 

On the occasion of the wine fair, a selection of rare wines is backed by NFT. This operation, carried out in collaboration with the Maison Bouée, is very simple. The NFT are dropped at the wine fair and can be bought in euros at La Nouvelle Cave's store and on the e-commerce website. These NFT are materialized with QR codes and a wooden reproduction that allows access to information about the wine. The bottles purchased will not be physically present at the point of sale, but the NFT acts as a certificate of authenticity. 

Indeed, the wines remain stored at the merchant's or owner's premises, thus guaranteeing optimal aging conditions until the moment when the customer wishes to physically receive them in his own cellar or resell them according to his choice. The NFTs are linked to a wallet. A small revolution in the muffled and very traditional world of wine merchants.

Example: Nissan

Traditional industries are also moving towards metaverses and offering multiple experiences. 

Nissan has created a digital gallery called Nissan Crossing dedicated entirely to visitors. It is a virtual showroom where the brand's customers can see the vehicles available in the Nissan catalog. Toyota is planning a metaverse project for its staff. The creation of virtual workstations offers employees the possibility to walk around a virtual version of the office and interact with colleagues via avatars.

Beware of bad buzz

The presence on metaverses is an excellent communication vector. On the other hand, you have to be careful, bad buzz is never far away. A few months ago, the CEO Alexandre Bompard of the Carrefour group was the victim of a bad buzz after setting up a virtual recruitment platform for engineers and data scientists. A flood of negative comments on Twitter. As a consequence, the reproaches are flying, the platform is of poor quality, the graphics are poor, the sound is saturated and the process itself is questioned. Yet the tool was not meant to be a graphic experience but a practical tool to facilitate recruitment. Beware, benevolence is not at the heart of social networks.

The positioning of Retail VR: Business opportunities in the metaverse

We are convinced that v-commerce, virtual reality commerce and the metaverse are the future of e-commerce. 

In a pragmatic approach, we offer our customers sales experiences that facilitate customer engagement. We continue our partnership strategy and now offer integration of our solutions with the largest CMS & CRM available on the market.  

Our recent infographic on the key figures of virtual reality in retail shows that the contribution of new technologies is boosting commercial actions. 61% of customers in the US say they prefer stores with augmented reality experiences. 

Large companies are moving in this direction and we are proud to support them with our transactional solutions for the general public (B2C) or for professionals (B2B).

To preview a virtual store, click on the button below.

Our technical and commercial teams are at your disposal to study your projects.